1/29/10

Pacific NW Bell Telephone Ad 1961

This ad from for a phone in the bedroom by Pacific NW Bell from a 1961 Sunday Comics section is so obsolete in an era of constant contact via cell phones, internet and twitter.
...Betsy wasn't nervous by nature. In the daytime, she'd have tackled a tiger. But at night her vivid imagination turned every groan of the woodwork into a prowler, every whistle of the wind into a fire engine.
Then a friend suggested I get her a bedside phone. He said it gave his wife a "sense of security" -- feeling that she was just a reach away from friends, doctors, firemen, police, even the FBI and National Guard.
The ad says a bedroom extension costs only $1.25 a month, plus tax and a small installation charge. Or, if you wanted you could get the Princess phone which glows in the dark, lights up, and comes in 5 colors for only $2 a month.
It's weird to think of the days when the phone company owned the phone equipment, and you had essentially had to rent it from them.


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From the mouth of Nancy

Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy plays a game of war. This is from a November 1943 Sunday Comics section.

1/23/10

Life During Wartime: The Sunday Comics Ads Part 2

Here are some more ads from Sunday Comics circa 1944. Historically we think of WWII as a "the last good war," a war where the planets aligned, good against evil. Juxtapose this with the current US conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan where the enemies are uncertain and the goals are unclear. Some people might yearn for the simpler days of the past, but even these ads from WWII seem to be selling an instant nostalgia for an earlier time, as if to say "use our toothpaste and everything is going to be all right!"

This ad for Lifebuoy has two separate strips, one targeting women and one for men. "See if you don't have more friends, more fun, more romance when you bathe daily with the only soap especially made to stop "B.O.""

I don't know what committee meeting "mom" is at, but can't the family make their own dang Royal Strawberry Gelatin?


As the kid brother says "Nothin' but mush, mush, mush. Sisters -- and sergeants -- sure are the craziest people." "Play safe," brush twice a day and before dates with Colgate "dental cream."


The military jargon in this story covers up a near Tailhook incident. "The way that gal blasted you out of formation was sure something to see." "Yeah, and all because I was gunning for a kiss." "Is that a reason for Sue to explode like that?" "Well, dames blow up easy when a guy's got bad breath!"


In this ad for Cheerioats there's a stamp in the upper left corner that reads "Produce and conserve...Share and play square...Food fights for freedom." This brings home the fact that, unlike today, there really were shortages during WWII.


Duz is a vanished brand of soap from Procter & Gamble. I like the etching along to top of the ad promoting war bonds.


The following ads are all from 1946, after WWII ended.
Like something from an old movie, this ad for Quaker Oats offers a chance to win a 1946 Nash Ambassador if you finish the sentence "Quaker Oats is America's Best Loved Cereal Because..." The Nash advertises the "famous In-A-Car Bed," which looks like you're sleeping in the trunk. By the time this ad was in the paper WWII had ended and people were probably relieved by the armistice. The federal government had ordered Nash and the other car companies to suspend passenger car production during World War II, so this was the first chance in over 3 years to buy a new car -- or win one!


For some reason this ad for Spic and Span seems to belong to the post-war future than to WWII and before. In 1945 Procter & Gamble bought the 10 year old product Spic and Span and began marketing it nationwide. So, this is the beginning of their campaign. Something about the box, the name, the graphics that feels more like an ad from the 50's or 60's than from the 40's. Maybe the ad is showing some of the optimism from winning WWII? Or, maybe they just want to sell more soap?

Read Part 1 here.

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Life During Wartime: The Sunday Comics Ads Part 1

The following ads are from the Sunday Comics sections from 1944. This was, of course, the height of World War II, and they reflect a strange mix of concern with supporting the service men and women, while also trying to make your house and teeth the cleanest and brightest they can be. These ads are sponsored by major companies, not like the ads you'd see attached to the comics nowadays for the local car parts shop, or a Carl's Junior burger. You can judge the importance of the media based on the advertisers, and it's easy to see, with ads for cleansers, toothpaste and the latest Nash auto, that in the 40's Sunday comics sections were for the whole family.

Dreft was the first synthetic detergent sold in the US, and it was marketed as a miracle soap, used for dishes, hands and hair. The war put a crimp in the supplies used to make Dreft, so it was hard to find in 1944.

Ivory soap, on the other "hand", introduces Red 'n' Rough, two characters who show how tough the "washday" soap is on a woman's hands. As the housewife says "just 12 days with Ivory can make hands like mine softer, smoother and whiter."

In 1944 Cheerios were called Cheerioats. The name was later changed because of a trademark disputes with Quaker Oats. This ad spotlights how Dorothy Lamour worked as an elevator operator when she discovered by a talent scout. "You're much too beautiful to be running an elevator."

Several months after the first ad for Dreft, the paper ran an advertisement explaining that "Uncle Sam comes first," so they were suspending production of Dreft until after the war. Fortunately for the housewives, production of Dreft was able to resume less than a year later because WWII ended in 1945.

Ivory soap once again tries to gain the "upper hand" by selling softness. This time the ad is directed not to the housewife, but to the newlyweds. The young wife tells her sailor husband" I work and slave all day... wash those dishes in that strong washday soap...why'd I get married?"

The banner along the top of this next excerpt isn't tied to the ad. Slogans to buy war bonds were sprinkled throughout the comics section every week. I'm not sure why these joes are making the climb, but they're clear about the cigs: "I'm sure glad to be up here smoking a Camel."

Here's another Camel Cigarettes ad, aimed at women this time. The ostensibly true story of Petty Officer Phyllis ____ ("name omitted by regulation") joining the Waves. Six weeks later "So now you're a full-fledged sailor -- smoking Camels too! They're the Navy Man's favorite."

This Camel ad really puts smoking in perspective. After finding and detonating a booby-trapped landmine, it's a relief for the soldiers to take a drag on a Camel!
 

Gillette makes shaving a matter of national security as wells as personal hygiene. "Ever since our first mission this crew has always slicked up before a raid and had a date afterwards." "That gives us a swell reason for coming back."

Private: On KP and your girl's mad at you? Try Colgate tooth paste. You'll be a Sergeant in no time!
Read Part 2 here.


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1/10/10

"The Book of Genesis" by R. Crumb at the Portland Art Museum

I recently read this article that claimed Portland is turning into a premier "comics town," and the latest announcement by the Portland Art Museum reaffirms this.  In June, 2010 the Museum will have an exhibition of more than 200 of the original drawings that went into R. Crumb's latest effort "The Book of Genesis."   This show, organized by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, will be on a "national tour," but the AP story only mentions LA, NY and...you guessed it, Portland, Oregon:
...the stunningly detailed, beautifully crafted black-and-white drawings that comprise its 201 pages will go on display at Los Angeles' Hammer Museum. After the exhibition closes in February it will move on to other cities, including New York and Portland, Ore.

If you haven't heard of Crumb's "Book of Genesis," or seen the art from it, there's a good review and excerpt in the June, 2009 New Yorker. If you have a digital subscription to the New Yorker you can see the article here.  Surprisingly, the story follows the Bible's book of Genesis pretty closely.  The art, however, is all Crumb.  This is the culmination of four years of work by Crumb to "illustrate every word of the fifty chapters that make up Genesis in the Bible."

You can read a review of the show in LA here, but I can't wait to see the work in person at PAM.







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